Ranking the Philadelphia Eagles' 10 Greatest Running Backs in Team History

Vaughn JohnsonCorrespondent IIMarch 20, 2012

Ranking the Philadelphia Eagles' 10 Greatest Running Backs in Team History

0 of 10

    The Philadelphia Eagles have a history that spans more than 75 years.

    During those 75 years, the Eagles have had a lot of memorable players, but ones that are seemingly forgotten are the running backs.

    The Eagles has never been a running back factory, but they've had some guys who were amongst the best in the league during their time in the kelly/forest green and white/silver.

    Some of these names are true blasts from the past and serve as a reminder of some of the forgotten history of the Eagles.

No. 10: Keith Byars (1986-92)

1 of 10

    Keith Byars never put up flashy numbers for the Eagles, but was on the team during a memorable part of the franchise's history.

    Byars' numbers may have suffered a bit because of the production of quarterback Randall Cunningham.

    Cunningham's success landed him fifth on the team's all-time rushing list whereas Byars is 13th.

    Who knows what kind of player Byars could have been if he was the featured running threat.

    Nonetheless, Byars was an integral part of some very good teams for the Eagles during that time period.

No. 9: Ollie Matson (1964-66)

2 of 10

    Ollie Matson made a name for himself on other teams, but still had a measure of success with the Eagles.

    The Eagles picked up Matson after virtually every team had given up on him despite his stellar career.

    Matson only rushed for a little more than 600 yards during his short time with the Eagles, but is a Pro Football Hall of Famer and was inducted into the first edition of the Eagles Honor Roll in 1987.

No. 8: Tom Sullivan (1972-77)

3 of 10

    One of the often forgotten names in Eagles history is Tom Sullivan.

    Sullivan played for some bad teams during his time with the Eagles, but it didn't prevent him for rushing for almost 1,000 yards in his second season.

    Sullivan ranks 10th in team history in yards despite rushing for less than 400 yards in his last two seasons in Philadelphia.

No. 7: Ricky Watters (1995-97)

4 of 10

    Ricky Watters may not have endeared himself to Philadelphia fans, especially after saying "For who? For what?" after alligator-arming a pass in a loss to the Buccaneers in 1995, but he was still very productive for the Eagles.

    When Watters said he was ballin', he meant it. In three seasons in Philadelphia, Watters rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of them. He was also a threat catching the ball out of the backfield with seasons of 48, 51 and 62 receptions. 

    His time in Philly was a microcosm of his entire career. He was very productive, but his attitude prevented him from being loved.

    Watters rushed for more than 10,000 career yards, more than some guys already in the Hall of Fame, but has yet to receive the call for Canton, and probably never will.

No. 6: Timmy Brown (1960-67)

5 of 10

    Another one of those forgotten names is running back/kick returner Timmy Brown, not to be confused with Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown.

    Brown is another blast from the past that played for some horrid teams back in the day, but still managed to shine.

    Brown was an all-purpose yardage machine as he was a threat running, catching and returning kicks.

    Brown was named to three Pro Bowls and multiple All-Pro teams during his time in Philadelphia.

    His best season came in 1965 when he rushed for 861 yards, caught 50 passes for 682 yards and scored a total of nine touchdowns rushing and receiving.

    Brown also amassed six punt/kick-return touchdowns during his career. 

    Brown was not forgotten for long as the Eagles inducted him into the Honor Roll in 1990.

No. 5: LeSean McCoy (2009-Present)

6 of 10

    LeSean McCoy could be well on his way to being the best Eagles running back ever, but with only three seasons under his belt it may be a little too soon to hand him that mantle just yet.

    Nonetheless, McCoy has proven himself to be one of the best running backs in the NFL today.

    McCoy has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons, earning a Pro Bowl nod last season after finishing fourth in the league in rushing (posting a career high 1,309 yards) with 17 touchdowns.

    Much like Timmy Brown, McCoy is a receiving threat as well tallying 166 career receptions and five receiving scores.

No. 4 Duce Staley (1997-03)

7 of 10

    The Duce is loose!

    Talk about one of the more underrated running backs of his time. Duce Staley was a mainstay in the Eagles offense for years before finishing his career in Pittsburgh.

    Staley was never the flashiest of runners, nor was he the fastest or strongest, but he always seemed to find a way to get the job done for the Eagles.

    Staley gained 5,785 yards during his 10-year career, with 4,807 of them coming as an Eagle. 

    He rushed for more than 1,000 yards three times in Philadelphia and was always a fan favorite.

    Staley is still helping the Eagles as their current special teams quality control coordinator.

No. 3: Wilbert Montgomery (1977-84)

8 of 10

    Wilbert Montgomery is the Eagles' all-time leading rusher with 6,538 yards, but only gets the No. 3 spot on this list.

    Montgomery was No. 1 in the hearts of Philadelphia fans when he, along with Ron Jaworski, led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl in 1980.

    Montgomery rushed for more 1,000 yards three times in the kelly green and silver and was voted to two Pro Bowls.

    He still holds the Eagles single-season record for yards in a season with 1,512, a record he set in 1979.

    The funny thing is, he didn't rush for 1,000 yards during the 1980 season. He only played in 12 regular-season games and finished with 778.

    Nonetheless, Montgomery still has his place in the hearts of Eagles fans everywhere as he was a central figure in one of the great times in franchise history.

No. 2 Brian Westbrook (2002-09)

9 of 10

    Another Eagles running back that was grossly underrated was Brian Westbrook.

    Westbrook lacked size, but was still able to be one of the best weapons in the NFL and was the only weapon Donovan McNabb had for a couple of seasons.

    Westbrook is the second-best rusher in Eagles franchise history with 5,995 yards. He reached that plateau despite only rushing for 1,000 yards in a season twice.

    Westbrook was arguably the best receiving running back of his time outside of Marshall Faulk.

    He holds single-season team records for receptions (90) and is third in team history in career receptions with 426.

    Injuries cut his career short, but if he had stayed healthy and maybe been in a more run-oriented offense, Westbrook had the talent to be one of the best running backs ever in general. He was that good.

No. 1: Steve Van Buren (1944-51)

10 of 10

    Steve Van Buren may be only third on the team's all-time rushing list, but he is still the best running back in franchise history.

    Van Buren played every year of his career with the Eagles and was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.

    Van Buren was a part of golden age in Eagles football. He helped the Eagles win back-to-back NFL Championships in 1948 and 1949.

    He was the first in a long line of versatile backs for the Eagles. Van Buren amassed more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage three times, all in consecutive years with the last two ending up in Eagles championships.

    Van Buren held the record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 15 in 1945, a record that stood until this past season when LeSean McCoy broke it with 17.

    Van Buren left an indelible mark on defenders and his legacy in Philadelphia lives on to this day.